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Thomas Cranner

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CRANNER, THOMAS, one of the chief reformers of the English church, and the first Protestant archbishop of Canterbury, was b. at Aslacton, in the co. of Notting ham, on the 2d of July, 1489. He was descended from an old Norman family, which is said to have come into England with William the conqueror. In his 14th year, he went, to Jesus college, Cambridge, of which lie was elected a fellow in 1510. He devoted himself diligently to the study of the learned languages, and also to the study of Scripture. His mind seems to have been early interested in the writings of Erasmus, Luther, and Le Fevre, and especially in their interpretations of Scrip ture. In his 23a1 year, he married, and so lost his fellowship; but his wife dying about a year after marriage, he was restored to it by his college. In 1523, he took his degree of D.D., and was appointed lecturer on theology. In 1528, during the preva knee of the sweating sickness in Cambridge, he retired with two pupils to Waltham and Henry VIII., in company with Gardiner and Fox, afterwards bishops of Winchester and Hereford, happening to be in the neighborhood, the event proved a turning-point in the life of Cranmer. The king was then seriously concerned about his divorce from Catharine of Aragon, and in conversation on the subject with Gardiner and Fox. C. suggested that the. question should be "tried according to the word of God." Fox having mentioned this suggestion to'the king, Henry was greatly pleased, and "swore by the mother of God, that titan bath the right sow by the ear." From this time, Henry never lost sight of Cranmer. He was asked to reduce his suggestion to writing, and to have it submitted to the European universities. After this he was appointed archdeacon of Taunton, and one of the royal chaplains. He was also sent to Rome on a special embassy about the divorce, but met with little success. Subsequently, he was dispatched to the emperor on the same errand, and while in Germany, he mar ried a second time, a niece of the German divine, Osiander. This took place in 1532; and shortly afterwards, on the death of archbishop Warham, he was recalled to fill the vacant see. Under his auspices, Henry's divorce was speedily carried through, and C. married the king to Anne Boleyn, on the 28th May, 1533. In Anne's subsequent

disgrace, and again, in the affair of Anne of Cleves, the archbishop took a part not very creditable to him. His position was no doubt a difficult one; but his character was naturally pliable and timid, rather than resolved and consistent. The same spirit char acterizes the measures of religious reform which were promoted by him. On the one hand, he joined actively with Henry in restricting the power of the pope, and in sup pressing the monasteries; but, on the other hand, he was no less active in persecuting men like Frith, Forrest, and others, who, on matters of religious faith, were disposed to advance further than himself or the king. He did what he could, howeVer, to resist the reactionary movement which took place in 1539, and which is known by the institu tion of the " six articles." He was also instrumental in promoting the translation and circulation of the Scriptures. On Henry VII1.'s death, C. was appointed one of the regents of the kingdom, and along with Latimer and others, largely contributed to the advance of the Protestant cause during the reign of Edward. Ite assisted in the com pilation of the service-book and the articles of religion. The latter are said to have been chiefly composed by him. He was also the author of four of the homilies.

On the accession of Mary, he was committed to the Tower, along with Latimer and Ridley. In Mar., 1554. they were removed to Oxford, and confined there in the com mon prison, called the Bocardo. Latimer and Ridley bore their cruel fate with mag nanimous courage; but the spirit and principles of C. temporarily gave way under the severity of his sufferings. He was induced, in the hope of saving his life, to sign no fewer than six recantations; but his enemies were determined to be satisfied by nothing short of his death. On the 21st Mar., 1556, he suffered martyrdom, as his fellow-re formers had done, opposite Hanoi college. His courage returned at the end, and lie died protesting his repentance for his unworthy weakness in changing his faith, and showing an unexpected fortitude in the midst of the flames.