CRANMER, THOMAS archbishop of Can terbury, born at Aslacton or Aslockton in Nottinghamshire on July 2, 1489, was the second son of Thomas Cranmer and of his wife Anne Hatfield. He received his early education, according to Morise his secretary, from "a marvellous severe and cruel schoolmaster." The same authority tells us that he was initiated by his father in those field sports, such as hunting and hawking, which formed one of his recreations in after life. To early train ing he also owed the skilful horsemanship for which he was con spicuous. At the age of 14 he was sent by his mother, who had in 1501 become a widow, to Cambridge. He became a fellow of Jesus college in 151 o or 1511, but had soon after to vacate his fellowship, owing to his marriage to "Black Joan," a relative of the landlady of the Dolphin inn. He was reinstated on the death of his wife, which occurred in childbirth before the lapse of the year of grace allowed by the statutes. He was ordained in 1523, and soon after took his doctor's degree in divinity; he was lec turer in divinity at his own college and public examiner in divinity to the university.
In Aug. 1529 the plague known as the sweating sickness drove Cranmer with two of his pupils named Cressy, who were related to him through their mother, to their father's house at Waltham in Essex. The king (Henry VIII.) happened at the time to be visiting in the immediate neighbourhood, and two of his chief counsellors, Gardiner, secretary of State, afterwards bishop of Winchester, and Edward Fox, the lord high almoner, after wards bishop of Hereford, were lodged at Cressy's house. Meet ing with Cranmer, they were naturally led to discuss the king's meditated divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Cranmer sug gested that if the canonists and the universities should decide that marriage with a deceased brother's widow was illegal, and if it were proved that Catherine had been married to Prince Arthur, her marriage to Henry could be declared null and void by the ordinary ecclesiastical courts. The necessity of an appeal to Rome was thus dispensed with, and this point was at once seen by the king, who, when Cranmer's opinion was reported to him, is said to have ordered him to be summoned in these terms : "I will speak to him. Let him be sent for out of hand. This man, I trow, has got the right sow by the ear." At their first interview Cranmer was commanded by the king to lay aside all other pursuits and to devote himself to the ques tion of the divorce. He was to draw up a written treatise, stating the course he proposed, and defending it by arguments from Scripture, the Fathers and the decrees of general councils. He was further commended to Anne Boleyn's father, the earl of Wiltshire, in whose house at Durham Place he resided for some time ; the king appointed him archdeacon of Taunton and one of his chaplains ; and he also held a parochial benefice. When the treatise was finished Cranmer was called upon to defend its argument before the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, which he visited, accompanied by Fox and Gardiner. Immediately after wards he was sent to plead the cause before a more powerful if not a higher tribunal. An embassy, with the earl of Wiltshire at its head, was despatched to Rome in 153o, that "the matter of the divorce should be disputed and ventilated," and Cranmer was an important member of it.
Cranmer returned in Sept. 1 S3o, but in Jan. 1531 he received a second commission from the king appointing him "Conciliarius Regius et ad Caesarem Orator." In the summer of 1531 he accordingly proceeded to Germany as sole ambassador to the emperor. He was also to sound the Lutheran princes with a view to an alliance, and to obtain the removal of some restrictions on English trade. At Nuremberg he became acquainted with Osi ander, whose somewhat isolated theological position he probably found to be in many points analogous to his own. Both were convinced that the old order must change ; neither saw clearly what the new order should be to which it was to give place. They had frequent interviews, which had doubtless an important influ ence on Cranmer's opinions. In 1532 Cranmer married Osiander's niece, Margaret. Hook finds in the fact of the marriage corrobo ration of Cranmer's statement that he never expected or desired the primacy ; and it seems probable enough that, if he had fore seen how soon the primacy was to be forced upon him, he would have avoided a disqualification which it was difficult to conceal and dangerous to disclose.
Expected or not, the primacy was forced upon him within a very few months of his marriage. In Aug. 1532 Archbishop War ham died, and the king almost immediately afterwards intimated to Cranmer, who had accompanied the emperor in his campaign against the Turks, his nomination to the vacant see. Cranmer's conduct was certainly consistent with his profession that he did not desire, as he had not expected, the dangerous promotion. The papal bulls of confirmation were dated Feb. and Mar. and the consecration took place on Mar. 3o.
In the last as in the first step of Cranmer's promotion Henry had been actuated by one and the same motive. The business of the divorce—or rather, of the legitimation of Anne Boleyn's expected issue—had now become very urgent, and in the new archbishop he had an agent who might be expected to forward it with the needful haste. Cranmer after securing decisions favourable to the king in Convocation wrote a letter to the king, praying to be allowed to remove the anxiety of loyal subjects as to a possible case of disputed succession, by finally determin ing the validity of the marriage in his archiepiscopal court. There is evidence that the request was prompted by the king, and his consent was given as a matter of course. Queen Catherine was residing at Ampthill in Bedfordshire, and to suit her convenience the court was held at the priory of Dunstable. Declining to appear, she was declared contumacious, and on May 23, the arch bishop gave judgment declaring the marriage null and void from the first. The Act of Appeals had already prohibited any appeal from the archbishop's court. Five days later he pronounced the marriage between Henry and Anne—which had been secretly celebrated about Jan. be valid. On June 1 he crowned Anne as queen, and on Sept. 1 o stood godfather to her child, the future Queen Elizabeth.
In 1536 Cranmer was required to revise his own sentence in favour of the validity of Henry's marriage with Anne Boleyn, and on May 17, the marriage was declared invalid. With Anne's condemnation by the House of Lords Cranmer had nothing to do. He interceded for her in vain with the king, as he had done in the cases of Fisher, More and the monks of Christchurch. His share in the divorce of Anne of Cleves was less prominent than that of Gardiner, though he did preside over the Convoca tion in which nearly all the dignitaries of the church signified their approval of that measure.
Meanwhile Cranmer was actively carrying out the policy which has associated his name more closely, perhaps, than that of any other ecclesiastic with the Reformation in England. Its most im portant feature on the theological as distinct from the political side was the endeavour to promote the circulation of the Bible in the vernacular, by encouraging translation and procuring an order in 1538 that a copy of the Bible in English should be set up in every church in a convenient place for reading. Only second in importance to this was the readjustment of the creed and lit urgy of the church, which formed Cranmer's principal work dur ing the latter half of his life. Both in parliament and in the convocation he opposed the Six Articles of 1539, but he stood almost alone. During the period between 154o and 1543 the arch bishop was engaged at the head of a commission in the revision of the "Bishop's Book" (1 J3 7) or Institutions of a Christian Man, and the preparation of the Necessary Erudition (1543) known as the "King's Book," which was a modification of the former work in the direction of Roman Catholic doctrine. In June 1545 was issued his Litany, which was substantially the same as that now in use, and shows his mastery of a rhythmical English style.
Cranmer was present with Henry VIII. when he died By the will of the king he was nominated one of a council of regency composed of 16 persons, but he acquiesced in the arrange ment by which Somerset became lord protector. He officiated at the coronation of the boy king Edward VI., and is supposed to have instituted a sinister change in the order of the ceremony, by which the right of the monarch to reign was made to appear to depend upon inheritance alone, without the concurrent consent of the people. But Edward's title had been expressly sanctioned by act of parliament, so that there was no more room for election in his case than in that of George I., and the real motive of the changes was to shorten the weary ceremony for the frail child.
During this reign Cranmer was enabled without let or hindrance to complete the preparation of the church formularies, on which he had been for some time engaged. In 1547 appeared the Homi lies prepared under his direction. Four of them are attributed to the archbishop himself—those on salvation, faith, good works and the reading of scripture. His translation of the German cate chism of Justus Jonas, known as Cranmer's catechism, appeared in the following year. Important, as showing his views on a cardi nal doctrine, was the Defence of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament, which he published in 155o. The first prayer book of Edward VI. was finished in November 1548, and received legal sanction in March 1549 ; the second was completed and sanctioned in April 1552. The archbishop did much of the work of compilation personally. The 42 articles of Edward VI. pub lished in 1553 owe their form and style almost entirely to the hand of Cranmer. The last great undertaking in which he was employed was the revision of his codification of the canon law, which had been all but completed before the death of Henry. The task was one eminently well suited to his powers, and the execution of it was marked by great skill in definition and arrangement. It never received any authoritative sanction, Ed ward VI. dying before the proclamation establishing it could be made, and it remained unpublished until 1571, when a Latin translation by Dr. Walter Haddon and Sir John Cheke appeared under the title Re f ormatio legum ecclesiasticarum. It laid down the lawfulness and necessity of persecution to the death for heresy in the most absolute terms ; and Cranmer himself con demned Joan Bocher to the flames. But he naturally loathed per secution, and was as tolerant as any in that age. • Cranmer stood by the dying bed of Edward as he had stood by that of his father, and he there suffered himself to be per suaded to take a step against his own convictions. He had pledged himself to respect the testamentary disposition of Henry VIII. by which the succession devolved upon Mary, and now he violated his oath by signing Edward's "device" of the crown to Lady Jane Grey. On grounds of policy and morality alike the act was quite indefensible; but it is perhaps some palliation of his perjury that it was committed to satisfy the last urgent wish of a dying man, and that he alone remained true to the nine days' queen when the others who had with him signed Edward's device deserted her.
On the accession of Mary he was summoned to the council— most of whom had signed the same device—reprimanded for his conduct, and ordered to confine himself to his palace at Lambeth until the queen's pleasure was known. He refused to follow the advice of his friends and avoid the fate that was clearly impend ing over him by flight to the continent. Any chance of safety that lay in the friendliness of a strong party in the council was more than nullified by the bitter personal enmity of the queen, who could not forgive his share in her mother's divorce and her "own disgrace. On Sept. 14, 1553, he was sent to the Tower where Ridley and Latimer were also confined. The immediate occasion of his imprisonment was a strongly worded declaration he had written a few days previously against the mass, the celebration of which, he heard, had been re-established at Canterbury. In Nov. with Lady Jane Grey, her husband, and two other Dudleys, Cranmer was condemned for treason. Renard thought he would be executed, but so true a Romanist as Mary could scarcely have an ecclesiastic put to death in consequence of a sentence by a secular court, and Cranmer was reserved for treatment as a heretic by the highest of clerical tribunals, which could not act until parliament had restored the papal jurisdiction. Accordingly in March 1554 he and his two illustrious fellow-prisoners, Ridley and Latimer, were removed to Oxford, where they were confined in the bocardo or common prison. Ridley and Latimer were un flinching, and suffered bravely at the stake on Oct. 16, Cranmer had been tried by a papal commission, over which Bishop Brooks of Gloucester presided in Sept. 1555. Brooks had no power to give sentence, but reported to Rome, where Cranmer was summoned, but not permitted, to attend. On Nov. 25, he was pronounced contumacious by the pope and excommunicated, and a commission was sent to England to degrade him from his office of archbishop. This was done with the usual humiliating ceremonies in Christ church, Oxford, on Feb. 14, 1556, and he was then handed over to the secular power. About the same time Cranmer subscribed the first two of his "recantations." His difficulty consisted in the fact that, like all Anglicans of the 16th century, he recognized no right of private judgment, but believed that the State, as represented by monarchy, parliament and Con vocation, had ar absolute right to determine the national faith and to impose it on every Englishman. All these authorities had now legally established Roman Catholicism as the national faith, and Cranmer had no logical ground on which to resist. His early "recantations" are merely recognitions of his lifelong conviction of this right of the State. But his dilemma on this point led him into further doubts, and he was eventually induced to revile his whole career and the Reformation. This is what the government wanted. Northumberland's recantation had done much to dis credit the Reformation, Cranmer's, it was hoped, would complete the work. Hence the enormous effect of Cranmer's recovery at the final scene. On Mar. 21 he was taken to St. Mary's church, and asked to repeat his recantation in the hearing of the people as he had promised. To the surprise of all he declared with dig nity and emphasis that what he had recently done troubled him more than anything he ever did or said in his whole life ; that he renounced and refused all his recantations as things written with his hand, contrary to the truth which he thought in his heart; and that as his hand had offended, his hand should be first burned when he came to the fire. As he had said, his right hand was steadfastly exposed to the flames. The calm cheerfulness and resolution with which he met his fate show that he felt that he had cleared his conscience, and that his recantation of his recantations was a repentance that needed not to be repented of.
It was a noble end to what, in spite of its besetting sin of infirmity of moral purpose, was a not ignoble life. The key to his character is well given in what Hooper said of him in a letter to Bullinger, that he was "too fearful about what might happen to him." This weakness was the worst blot on Cranmer's char acter. As a theologian it is somewhat difficult to class him. As early as 1538 he had repudiated the doctrine of transubstantia tion ; by 155o he had rejected also the real presence (Pref. to his Answer to Dr. Richard Smith). But here he used the term "real" somewhat unguardedly, for in his Defence he asserts a real presence, but defines it as exclusively a spiritual presence; and he repudiates the idea that the bread and wine were "bare tokens." His views on church polity were dominated by his im plicit belief in the divine right of kings (not of course the divine hereditary right of kings) which the Anglicans felt it necessary to set up against the divine right of popes. He set practically no limits to the ecclesiastical authority of kings; they were as fully the representatives of the church as the State, and Cranmer hardly distinguished between the two. Church and State to him were one.
BIBLIOGRAPHY.-R. W. Dixon's History; J. Gairdner's History of the Bibliography.-R. W. Dixon's History; J. Gairdner's History of the Church, 1485-1558; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII. vols. iv—xx.: Acts of the Privy Council, 1542-1S56; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. and Foreign; Foxe's Acts and Monuments; Strype's Memorials of Cran mer (1694) ; Anecdotes and Character of Archbishop Cranmer, by Ralph Morice, and two contemporary biographies (Camden Society's publications) ; Remains of Thomas Cranmer, by Jenkyns Lives of Cranmer, by Gilpin (1784) ; Todd (1831) ; Le Bas, in Hook's Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, vols. vi. and vii. (1868), by Canon Mason (1897) , A. D. Innes (1900) and A. F. Pollard (19o4) ; Froude's History; Bishop Cranmer's Recantacyons, ed. Gairdner (1885). R. E. Chester Waters's Chesters of Chicheley (1877) contains a vast amount of genealogical information about Cranmer which has been used by only one of his biographers.