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Cranmer defended this treatise before theologians at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, in the process earning the gratitude of Henry and the enmity of Katherine's supporters, including her daughter, Mary. Thereafter Henry employed Cranmer on several embassies abroad, first to the Pope, and later to make surreptitious contact with Protestant leaders in Europe. In Cranmer married for the second time, to Margaret, daughter of a Lutheran scholar.

Margaret's moment in the public eye was brief, however. The following year Cranmer was elevated to the Archbishopric of Canterbury, and in keeping with the king's objections to ecclesiastic marriages, he was forced to send his wife into hiding and later to officially banish her. This peculiar state of affairs continued until reforms in the reign of Henry's son Edward VI allowed clergymen to marry, and Cranmer could once more live openly with his wife.

In the meantime Cranmer supported, at least in public, Henry's numerous marital maneuvers. In his role as Archbishop of Canterbury he officially dissolved Henry's marriage with Katherine of Aragon, and later helped preside over the trial of Anne Boleyne, the divorce from Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Howard's trial and execution.

In these proceedings Cranmer showed his pliability; he seemed unable to deny Henry any whim. Cranmer seems to have been genuinely opposed to Henry's Dissolution of the Monasteries , though his devotion to the secular authority of his master did not allow much scope for challenging Henry's decisions! Certainly Cranmer was one of Henry's most valued servants during the Dissolution, and as such he took a lot of the blame from those opposed to the policy. During the reign of Henry VIII, Cranmer worked toward his own version of sensible ecclesiastical reform, including a new translation of the Bible in English.

But it was his actions during the reign of Edward VI that made Cranmer a truly controversial figure, alternately despised and applauded by English Catholics and Protestants. In Cranmer produced The Book of Common Prayer a second revised version was issued in , which introduced a storm of controversy. Cranmer presented the view that a proper Christian Communion depends more on the heart of the practitioner than the actual bread and wine used in the ceremony. He also encouraged the public reading of the Bible by the entire congregation.

The Remains of Thomas Cranmer, vol. 1

Though to modern ears these views seem sensible, or at least worthy of reasoned consideration, at the time they were nothing short of revolutionary. Cranmer was castigated by Catholics and occasionally by zealous Protestant reformers who claimed he was not revolutionary enough!

Cranmer's brief reform movement was overturned when Mary I came to the throne in Mary, a firm Catholic, blamed Cranmer for her mother's divorce. She quickly had Cranmer tried and sentenced to death for treason. The sentence was not carried out, though, and Cranmer was tried anew for heresy. During his trial Cranmer sensibly recanted his reform views, and affirmed the supreme authority of the Pope and the physical presence of Christ in the bread and wine of Communion.

He signed an official document renouncing his reformist views. Despite this recantation he was convicted of heresy and sentenced to death.

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Perhaps realizing that his chances of survival were gone, Cranmer faced death with remarkably calm. On March 21, he was burned at the stake at Oxford.

As the flames rose about him, Cranmer renounced his previous recantation, and held out the treacherous right hand that had signed the documents, so that it might be the first consumed by the fire. Cranmer is one of three bishops whose deaths are commemorated by the Martyr's Memorial in Oxford. In the parish registers are various entries of the baptisms and deaths of members of the family. Ralph Morice , the private secretary of the Archbishop , has left behind him some interesting notes of his eminent master, in which he gives colour to the belief that the first of the family to settle in this country came into the realm with William the Conqueror.

Prior to their appearance in Nottinghamshire they lived at Lutterton, and occupied a good position there. By the marriage of Edward Cranmer with the heiress of the Aslocktons they assumed the arms of the latter. Whether the future Archbishop was educated by the parish priest, or whether he went to a grammar school in any of the towns of the neighbourhood, is a matter of speculation.

But if not trained at home in literature and the arts, he received in the open fields of this broad stretch of country what was of great importance to him in after-life, an efficient knowledge of outdoor exercises and pastimes, and the foundations of a strong constitution.

Shortly after the funeral of his father at Whatton, in , his mother sent him at fourteen years of age to Jesus College, Cambridge. His subsequent career is a matter of general history.

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He had soon after to vacate his fellowship, owing to his marriage to ' Black Joan ', a relative of the landlady of the Dolphin Inn, and that he was reinstated in it on the death of his wife, which occurred in childbirth before the lapse of the year of grace allowed by the statutes.

During the brief period of his married life he held the ' appointment of lecturer at Buckingham Hall ', now Magdalene College. The fact of his marrying would seem to show that he did not at the time intend to enter the church; possibly the death of his wife caused him to qualify for holy orders. He was ordained in , and soon after he took his doctor's degree in divinity. Cranmer continued at Cambridge filling the offices of lecturer in divinity at his own college and of public examiner in divinity to the university.

It is interesting to know, in view of his later efforts to spread the knowledge of the Bible among the people, that in the capacity of examiner he insisted on a thorough acquaintance with the Holy Scriptures, and rejected several candidates who were deficient in this qualification.

In Aug the sweating sickness , which prevailed throughout the country, was specially severe at Cambridge, and all who had it in their power forsook the town for the country. Cranmer went with two of his pupils named Cressy , related to him through their mother, to their father's house at Waltham in Essex. Meeting with Cranmer , they were naturally led to discuss the King 's meditated divorce from Catalina De Aragon. Cranmer suggested 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 Catalina 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 ". Thomas Cranmer defended the position that Henry 's marriage to Catalina De Aragon was null and void, collecting opinions in his favor from the universities. Cranmer was commanded by the King 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.

His material interests certainly did not suffer by compliance. He was commended to the hospitality of Thomas Boleyn, 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, the name of which is unknown. 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 afterwards he was sent to plead the cause before a more powerful if not a higher tribunal.

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An embassy, with Wiltshire at its head, was despatched to Rome in , that " the matter of the divorce should be disputed and ventilated ", and Cranmer was an important member of it. He was received by the Pope with marked courtesy, and was appointed "Grand Penitentiary of England", but his argument, if he ever had the opportunity of stating it, did not lead to any practical decision of the question. Cranmer returned to England in Sep 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 Andreas Osiander b.

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. Osiander 's niece, Margaret , won the heart of Cranmer, and in they were married. Her parents names seem to be lost to history, but she was the niece of Osiander 's wife, Katharina Preu and her last name was either Preu or Hetzel.

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Thomas Cranmer and the English Reform | Christian History | Christianity Today

In Aug , Archbishop Warham died. Expected or not, the primacy was forced upon him within a very few months of his marriage. 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. He sent his wife to England, but delayed his own return in the vain hope that another appointment might be made.

The papal bulls of confirmation were dated Feb and Mar , and Cranmer was consecrated on 30 Mar. The elected archbishop took two oaths, the first episcopal loyalty to the Pope , and the second acknowledging the royal supremacy. The latter was so broad in scope that could be done enough to replace the old, to the extent that the two were incompatible.

Cranmer , however, was not satisfied with this. There was a special recorded protest, which formally declared that he swore allegiance to the Pope only to the extent that was consistent with his supreme duty to the King. Cranmer 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 determining 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 Catalina was residing at Ampthill in Bedfordshire, and to suit her convenience the court was held at the priory of Dunstable in the immediate neighbourhood. Declining to appear, she was declared contumacious, and on 23 May the archbishop gave judgment declaring the marriage null and void from the first, and so leaving the King free to marry whom he pleased.

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 the 25 Jan - to be valid. His position as chief minister of Henry 's ecclesiastical jurisdiction forced him into unpleasant prominence in connexion with the King 's matrimonial experiences.

In he was required to revise his own sentence in favour of the validity of Henry 's marriage with Anne Boleyn ; and on 17 May 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 John Fisher , Thomas More and the monks of Christchurch.

In , he was the godfather of Prince Edward , the first legitimate son of King Henry.

Wives were not at that time permitted for priests, let alone archbishops, so Cranmer hid his marriage. Around , Cranmer sent Margarete back to Germany to avoid prosecution, but she was able to return c. Cranmer was strongly influenced by the German Reformation. With his friend Thomas Cromwell , he endorsed the translation of the Bible into English and was influential in procuring a royal proclamation providing for a copy in every parish church.

In an embassy of German divines visited England with the design, among other things, of forming a common confession for the two countries. This proved impracticable, but the frequent conferences Cranmer had with the theologians composing the embassy had doubtless a great influence in modifying his views.

Both in parliament and in Convocation he opposed the Six Articles of , but he stood almost alone. In Cranmer was one of the accusers of Catherine Howard. Mary Lascelles brought the new Queen's past to the attention of Thomas Cranmer.