Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8 >> County to Crome >> Cranmer

Cranmer

english, england, henry, oxford, thomas, sent, ib and writings

CRANMER, Thomas, English prelate and reformer: b. Aslacton, Nottinghamshire, 2 July 1489; d. Oxford, 21 March 1556. He was edu cated at Cambridge and in 1523 was. chosen reader of theological lectures in his college and examiner of candidates for degrees in divinity. In the course of conversation on the meditated divorce of Henry VIII from Catharine of Ara gon Cranmer remarked that the question of its propriety might be better decided by consulting learned divines and members of the universities than by an appeal to the Pope. The opinion thus delivered gained the favor of the king and Cranmer was sent for, made a king's chaplain and commanded to write a treatise on the sub ject of the divorce. In 1530 he was sent abroad with others to collect the opinions of the di vines and canonists of France, Italy and Ger many on the validity of the king's marriage. At Rome he presented his treatise to the Pope and afterward proceeded to Germany, where he obtained for his opinions the sanction of a great number of German divines and civilians, and formed intimate connections with the rising party of the Protestants which probably influ enced his future conduct greatly. In January 1533 he was announced as the Lew archbishop of Canterbury, and on 30 March he was conse crated at Westminster. Soon after, he set the papal authority at defiance by declaring invalid the marriage between Henry and Catharine and confirming the king's marriage with Anne Boleyn. Next year an act of Parliament was passed for abolishing the Pope's supremacy and declaring the king chief head of the Church of England. The new or revised English transla tion of ffie Bible, now appointed to be placed in churches, received the name of Bible.' On the death of Henry, in 1547, the arch bishop was left one of the executors of his will, and member of the regency appointed to gov ern the kingdom during the minority of Edward VI. He proceeded to model the Church of England according to the notions of Zwinglius, rather than those of Luther. By his instru mentality the liturgy was drawn up and estab lished by act of Parliament, and articles of re ligion were compiled, the validity of which was enforced by royal authority and for which in fallibility was claimed. The exclusion of the Princess Mary from the crown, by the will of her brother, was a measure in which Cranmer joined the partisans of Lady Jane Grey, ap parently in opposition to his own judgment. With others who had been most active in her elevation, he was sent to the Tower on the ac cession of Mary. He was tried for treason, and

being condemned was sentenced to death, but was spared by the queen, though he lost his po sition as archbishop of Canterbury. In March 1554 he was sent to Oxford with Ridley and Latimer, and after being kept in prison for nearly a year and a half they were formally tried. Cranmer's trial took place before a papal commissioner, on the charges of blas phemy, perjury, incontinence and heresy, and he was sentenced to be degraded and deprived of office. After this, promises were made, which induced him to sign a recantation of his al leged errors. He was placed on a scaffold in Saint Mary's Church, the day he was to suffer, there to listen to a declaration of his faults and heresies. Instead of confessing the justness of his sentence and submitting to it in silence, or imploring mercy, he calmly acknowledged that the fear of death had made him belie his con science; and declared that nothing could af ford him consolation but the prospect o ex tenuating his guilt by encountering, as a Prot estant penitent, with firmness and resignation, the fiery torments which awaited him. He was immediately hurried to the stake, where he kept his right hand, with which he had signed his recantation, extended in the flames, that it might be consumed before the rest of his body, exclaiming from time to time, "That unworthy hand." His principal writings were edited by Jenkyns, 'Remains of Archbishop Cranmer' (Oxford 1833) ; and by Cox, for the Parker Society, under the titles, 'Writings and Dis putations Relative to the Lord's Supper' (Cam bridge 1844) and 'Miscellaneous Writings and Letters' (ib. 1846). Consult Strype,