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LIBRARY OF RELIGIOUS BIOGRAPHY Edited by Mark A. Noll

The Library of Religious Biography is a series of original biographies on important religious figures throughout American and British history. The authors are well-known historians, each a recognized authority in the period of religious history in which his or her subject lived and worked. Grounded in solid research of both published and archival sources, these volumes link the lives of their subjects — not always thought of as “religious” persons — to the broader cultural contexts and religious issues that surrounded them. Each volume includes a bibliographical essay and an index to serve the needs of students, teachers, and researchers. Marked by careful scholarship yet free of footnotes and academic jargon, the books in this series are well-written narratives meant to be read and enjoyed as well as studied.


LIBRARY OF RELIGIOUS BIOGRAPHY William Ewart Gladstone: Faith and Politics in Victorian Britain David Bebbington Aimee Semple McPherson: Everybody’s Sister  •  Edith L. Blumhofer Her Heart Can See: The Life and Hymns of Fanny J. Crosby  •  Edith L. Blumhofer Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat  •  James D. Bratt Orestes A. Brownson: American Religious Weathervane  •  Patrick W. Carey Thomas Merton and the Monastic Vision  •  Lawrence S. Cunningham Billy Sunday and the Redemption of Urban America  •  Lyle W. Dorsett The Kingdom Is Always but Coming: A Life of Walter Rauschenbusch Christopher H. Evans Liberty of Conscience: Roger Williams in America  •  Edwin S. Gaustad Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson Edwin S. Gaustad Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President  •  Allen C. Guelzo Charles G. Finney and the Spirit of American Evangelicalism Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America  •  Barry Hankins The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather Rick Kennedy Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life  •  Nancy Koester Emily Dickinson and the Art of Belief  •  Roger Lundin A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards  •  George M. Marsden The Puritan as Yankee: A Life of Horace Bushnell  •  Robert Bruce Mullin Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White  •  Ronald L. Numbers Blaise Pascal: Reasons of the Heart  •  Marvin R. O’Connell Occupy Until I Come: A. T. Pierson and the Evangelization of the World Dana L. Robert God’s Strange Work: William Miller and the End of the World David L. Rowe The Divine Dramatist: George Whitefield and the Rise of Modern Evangelicalism  •  Harry S. Stout Assist Me to Proclaim: The Life and Hymns of Charles Wesley John R. Tyson Emblem of Faith Untouched: A Short Life of Thomas Cranmer Leslie Williams


Emblem of Faith Untouched A Short Life of Thomas Cranmer

Leslie Williams

William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company Grand Rapids, Michigan


Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2140 Oak Industrial Drive N.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49505 www.eerdmans.com © 2016 Leslie Williams All rights reserved Published 2016 Printed in the United States of America 22 21 20 19 18 17 16    7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN 978–0–8028–7418–4

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Williams, Leslie, 1951 – author. Title: Emblem of faith untouched : a short life of Thomas Cranmer / Leslie Williams. Description: Grand Rapids : Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016. | Series: Library of religious biography | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016019030 | ISBN 9780802874184 (pbk. : alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: Cranmer, Thomas, 1489–1556. | Great Britain—History—Tudors, 1485–1603—Biography. | Great Britain—Politics and government—1509–1547. | Great Britain—Church history—16th century. | Statesmen—Great Britain— Biography. | Theologians—England—Biography. | Bishops—England—Biography. Classification: LCC DA317.8.C8 W55 2016 | DDC 283.092 [B]—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016019030


Dedicated to all my sisters, Kristin, Mary-Keith, Shelley, and Stephanie


Contents

Introduction

1

1. Beginnings2 2. Cambridge7 3. Henry VIII

13

4. Rome21 5. Reformation27 6. Archbishop34 7. Royal Supremacy

41

8. Wives48 9. Doctrine55 10. Tradition62 11. Danger69 12. Conspiracy75 13. Ordinary Time

85

14. Henry’s End

94

15. Edward100 16. Consolidating Reformation

111 vii


Contents

17. Mary121 18. Persecution129 19. Degradations136 20. Death146 Postscript

152

Appendix A.  Key Issues in the Reformation

154

Appendix B.  Reformation Eucharistic Theology

157

Notes

158

Bibliography

187

Acknowledgments

192

Index

193

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Introduction

E

mblem of Faith Untouched is a biography written for those interested in Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation, but who are not professional scholars in the field. Diarmaid MacCulloch’s brilliant and in-­depth study, Thomas Cranmer, provides a compendium of information about Cranmer, addressing scholars’ contradictions about Cranmer’s life, motives, and personality, as well as his effect on the development of the Anglican Church. I am deeply indebted to MacCulloch for providing such a comprehensive and factual study. This book is a text for seminarians, priests, and lay students of English history and theology, and of the development of the Anglican/Episcopal Church. Though the book includes the theology and history of the period, it is primarily anecdotal in focus, telling the stories of Cranmer’s life. Originally based on John Foxe’s narrative in Acts and Monuments, this current Cranmer biography tends to view Cranmer’s martyrdom from the Anglican perspective, but includes information from all the other major biographical sources, including the Roman Catholic view, thus making Thomas Cranmer as human and real as possible. For a smoother read, all quotations, ideas, events, dates, and facts are documented in the back.

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Chapter One

Beginnings Grant to us Lord we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful; that we, which cannot be without thee, may by thee be able to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

T

he quaint modern town of Aslockton lies on the edge of the fertile Vale of Belvoir in the Midlands of England, surrounded by farmland and patches of forest. According to current locals at the Cranmer Arms pub, the village boasts a population of around a thousand people, housing one of England’s few remaining blacksmiths and farriers. Visitors can take hiking tours by the river, along the same footpaths Thomas Cranmer himself walked five hundred years ago. In 1500, the land around the ancient town, Aslacton in Nottinghamshire, looked much as it did when Robin Hood roamed and ruled in nearby Sherwood Forest three centuries earlier. In Cranmer’s time, Major Oak—Robin Hood’s legendary headquarters—still spread its majestic branches, and birches with long, gangly, silver trunks provided shade for emerald grass and winding footpaths. The remains of an old Norman motte-­and-­wattle castle with a moat had disintegrated into a mound, forming the gardens, the “pleasure grounds” of the lord of the private manor, Thomas Cranmer Sr. His young son Thomas used to sit on top of the mound and gaze toward the gardens and meadows around him, listening to the bells of Saint John of Beverly in nearby Whatton. Thomas Cranmer Jr. was born on July 2, 1489, in Aslacton, on an estate with a rich history, land that had been a Roman settlement belonging to King Edward until the Norman Conquest in 1066. As recorded in the Domesday Book, William the Conqueror himself had given the estate to Walter D’Aincourt after the Battle of Hastings. One of three original manors in the parish, it came into the hands of the De Aslacton 2


Beginnings family during Henry II’s reign. Simon De Aslacton served as the sheriff of Nottingham during 1260 and part of 1261. In 1460, Cranmer’s grandfather, Edmund, married the last surviving heir, Isabella De Aslacton, and the estate with the manor passed into Cranmer hands. Located in the center of the village, the estate covered five hundred to six hundred acres, including meadows and forestland. The population of the “village” was around forty people, with eighteen living outside the settlement. The old Aslacton castle mound provided the high ground for the gardens, and is now called Cranmer’s Mound in honor of the young boy who used to sit there. Edmund’s marriage to Isabella De Aslacton was a step up for him. She came from a knighted family, and Edmund, arriving from nearby Lincolnshire, aspired to a higher social status. Though the Cranmer wealth was modest compared to that of the other estates surrounding Aslacton, a desire toward upward social mobility passed from Edmund to his son, Thomas, the father of Thomas the archbishop. Thomas Sr. called himself “Esquire” in his will, and chose to be buried in the larger, grander parish church of Whatton instead of the smaller chapel of Holy Trinity in Aslacton. Half a mile away, the village of Whatton had grown up around one of the other three original estates, and Saint John of Beverly was the main church in the parish. The Cranmer family worshiped in Whatton, although the archbishop’s father left the small chapel in Aslacton a little something in his will. A footpath leads from the center of modern Aslockton to Whatton, beginning a couple of hundred yards from Cranmer’s Mound, traveling along a hedgerow, over a stile, to the river, and offering a glimpse of the Whatton church standing high over the riverbanks. Because Thomas Cranmer’s family dated back to the Norman Conquest in 1066, family members had the right to a family crest and coat of arms. British heraldry was a holdover from medieval times, when a coat of arms—a literal coat worn over the armor of knights—was essential for quick recognition in battle. At first knights could choose their own symbols and colors, but the situation soon devolved into pandemonium, and an organized system took over, with the king granting all arms. Families selected from two metals, gold and silver, and up to seven colors with symbolic attachments (red for military strength, blue for loyalty, green for hope, black for grief or constancy, orange for worth3


Emblem of Faith Untouched

while ambition, maroon for patience in battle, and purple for royalty). By the time Cranmer became archbishop of Canterbury, property was also required as a qualification for a coat of arms or a crest. Though the need for instant battlefield identification had passed with the code of chivalry, the ancient custom appealed to those who wanted to be identified with social status. In 1501, Thomas Sr. died, leaving behind his wife, three sons, and four daughters, who were faced with the issue of the tomb. Grateful to have the privilege of burial among glorious knights and clergy of old, the family didn’t know how to compete with the ornate tombs and effigies of the greater estates surrounding them. They selected a simple, unextravagant limestone slab for Thomas and cut it with a life-­size engraving of him dressed in plain clothes, with long hair and a purse. At the same time, they included two crests on the tomb, the family shield—a chevron with three cranes (a pun on the family name, “crane-­mer”)— paired with the Newmarch shield, thus aligning themselves in pride with ancient ancestry. Perhaps the mixed message on Thomas Sr.’s tomb represented the family’s own mixed feelings about their place in society: they were an old family, yes, but with little wealth or distinction. When Thomas became archbishop, he designed his own shield, in keeping with tradition. He changed his family’s imagery from cranes to pelicans. According to legend, pelicans shed their own blood to feed their young. This symbol of Christ reflected the position Cranmer embraced with his new office. It also foreshadowed his own death. At the time of Cranmer’s appointment, Henry VIII said, in an understatement, “You arr like[ly] to be tasted (tested) yf [if] you stand to your tackling at lengeth.” Cranmer also added three cinquefoils from his mother’s arms and a crescent, symbol of a younger son. This shield was impaled, or paired, with the shield of the see of Canterbury. For his signet (the seal used to sign official papers), Cranmer kept the old family design with no crescent. After Thomas Sr.’s death, the estate could support only one of the children, and so it passed to Thomas’s older brother, John. This medieval “firstborn winner take all” practice of primogeniture kept the estates from being parceled away over the centuries, while at the same time providing the church and the army with an influx of talent from among the second sons of the nobility—which is what happened to young Thomas. Before he died, Thomas Sr. felt it important to provide an education 4


Beginnings for both the younger sons, Thomas and Edmund, so they could enter the ranks of the clergy. He left them each a small annual allowance. A very young Thomas probably started at the local village school, then progressed to the grammar school, where he was beaten into quiet submission by a cruel schoolmaster, a “rude parishe clerke in that barbarus tyme.” The history of education is dotted with the image of young boys rapped on the knuckles, bullied by tyrannical teachers, and Cranmer’s story seems to be one more case of an early lesson in survival. The story told later by Cranmer’s secretary addresses Cranmer’s mild and unargumentative personality, suggesting that as a result of this cruel treatment at school, Cranmer grew into a timid man. Cranmer’s schoolmaster so “appalled, dulled, and daunted” the tender and fine minds of his scholars that they ended up hating literature, losing both memory and natural audacity in the face of such treatment. While Thomas’s father was still alive, he encouraged the young boy to enjoy other pursuits besides his studies. Raising him to be a proper English gentleman, he took Thomas hunting and hawking, and taught him to ride even the roughest horses. This training stood Thomas in good stead when he became archbishop; a good horseman, he could ride with the best, taking time on occasion to enjoy the recreational sports of hunting and hawking. He killed deer with a crossbow, even when his sight was failing. In 1503, at age fourteen, Cranmer went to Cambridge to study at Jesus College. The family’s decision to send him there must have been made in the face of social and family interests. Two of Cranmer’s relatives by marriage chose to attend the rival school of Oxford, and two of his other friends, Christopher Tamworth and Robert Clifton, went to different colleges at Cambridge. However, two of Cranmer’s young contemporaries from Lincolnshire—Thomas Goodrich and John Whitwell—decided to attend Jesus College as well, which may have had a bearing on Cranmer’s decision. Remaining lifelong friends, the three of them rose in the clergy ranks together, Goodrich becoming bishop of Ely and lord chancellor, and Whitwell serving as Cranmer’s personal chaplain throughout his years as archbishop. In the early 1500s, benefactors competed to establish new colleges in the two centers of English learning, Oxford and Cambridge. In 1494 or 1495, Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, met with John Fisher, later bishop of Rochester, over a meal. During that meal, she 5


Emblem of Faith Untouched

asked him to be her spiritual guide, and he convinced her to become involved in the future of Cambridge. Thus began a fruitful collaboration of the two benefactors. In 1496, the last of the nuns departed the Benedictine convent of Saint Mary and Saint Radegun, east of Cambridge. According to tradition, the nuns had gained a reputation for lascivious living. With a small endowment, the bishop established Jesus College on the convent’s spacious grounds. The nuns’ refectory became the college hall; the former prioress’s lodging became the Master’s Lodge; and the bishop of Ely modified and reduced the chapel in scale. By 1503, the year Thomas arrived at Cambridge, John Fisher had become vice-­chancellor, and he and Lady Margaret were already set on a course to make Cambridge (including Jesus College) a leader of all northern Europe in humanistic learning. In Cranmer’s first years at Jesus College, they financed the refurbishing and upgrading of the college. Lady Margaret made annual visits, and on her last one, she brought along her son King Henry VII and her grandson, Prince Henry, to the university commencement with her. Cranmer began studies for a BA in 1503, moving from the Cranmer holdings and the mound where he used to gaze over the gardens on his family’s estate, to Cambridge, living in the refurbished nuns’ convent surrounded by spacious grounds of field and forest. He was entering a new world, and a changing one.

6


Chapter Two

Cambridge Blessed Lord, which hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; grant us that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our savior Jesus Christ.

I

n 1500, higher education in England was beginning a radical transition in thought, curriculum, and method—reflecting a major shift in worldview. A student entering Cambridge in the early 1500s could expect a new course of study, not the old medievalism taught in the past centuries. However, the transition in studies was gradual. Scholasticism had ruled the universities since the twelfth century as a method in which scholars attempted to reconcile, synthesize, or resolve tensions between faith and reason. Augustine provided the maxim for Scholasticism: “Understand so that you may believe; believe so that you may understand.” Though the Holy Spirit was still the supreme source of the knowledge of God, reason (illuminated by God) was duty-­ bound to investigate and expound Christian authoritative information. When the questions of faith were argued in a series of dialectics, the two sides of an argument could be made whole or resolved through formal logic. Closely linked with philosophy, Scholasticism was a serious attempt to reconcile the major questions of faith and life, and it continued to be a method of study when Cranmer got to Jesus College. The curriculum had been revised in 1488 to reflect the different approach, the new trend of intellectual thought. Humanism—the rising current of philosophy and literature—was prevalent among Renaissance thinkers and helped fuel the Reformation. 7


Emblem of Faith Untouched

Humanism shifted the focus from the next life to this one, emphasizing human dignity as a central concern, along with the value of the individual, beauty as a deep inner virtue, and worldly achievement and pleasures. Academic study shifted from interpretation to original sources, including newly discovered classical texts in the ancient languages of Latin and Greek. Thomas Cranmer entered this maelstrom of thought in 1503, beginning a four-­year program at Cambridge: classical literature for the first two years, logic in the third year, and philosophy in the fourth year, matriculating with a BA. The next course of study was the MA, which included arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. With no professors or formal classes, the Cambridge teaching system employed masters, men who had passed the MA and been licensed by their university colleagues to tutor. These masters taught the younger students by assigning readings and giving examinations that consisted of oral arguments over questions the students put forth. Students held these disputations first with senior students, then with the masters. This method of learning continued as scholars rose in academia and gained degrees. The masters studied and disputed with doctors—in divinity, canon and civil law, and medicine—and eventually themselves became doctors, grouped into specific faculties. As a student, Cranmer may have been exceptionally thorough, or he may simply have been slow, because it took him a long time to get his first degree. Cranmer apparently had the bad luck to suffer from “peevish” masters. In addition, his college tutor either toyed with material he didn’t understand (making things up) or simply skipped the material, making it more difficult for Cranmer to pull his studies together. Foxe claims Cranmer’s delay was caused by the state of education in England, which was in transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance; early on many fine new writers were neglected, and the schools and universities were reluctant to abandon the old “filthy barbarousness.” Cranmer plodded through Scholasticism, searching for more. At any rate, it took Cranmer eight years to finish his BA. In his graduating class were several good friends who later became his chaplains, and Hugh Latimer, a fellow martyr. A few years behind him, his future antagonist Stephen Gardiner was just beginning his undergraduate career. At this point in his life, Cranmer was short with a pure and sanguine complexion, with lively eyes boring out from under dark, bushy eyebrows. While Cranmer was quietly building his reputation 8


Cambridge as a scholar, Gardiner, the son of wealthy cloth merchants, was already becoming famous. Latimer and Gardiner were to play a large part in Cranmer’s future. In 1511, several events coincided. Cranmer finished his bachelor’s degree and started his master’s (which he finished in a timely manner in 1515). Also, the famous Dutch Christian humanist Erasmus received the lectureship as the Lady Margaret’s Reader in Divinity. Erasmus translated the Greek Novum Testamentum, published in 1516, “setting the heather on fire” with his new ideas. Erasmus wrote in the preface to his translation that it was important to make the Bible available for everyone, which was a radical notion for the time: “The mysteries of kings it may be safer to conceal, but Christ wished his mysteries to be published as openly as possible. I wish that even the weakest woman should read the Gospel and the epistles of Paul. . . . I long that the husbandman should sing portions of them to himself as he follows the plough, that the weaver should hum them to the tune of his shuttle, that the traveler should beguile with their stories the tedium of his journey.” This Latin translation with its “swarms of footnotes” formed a basis on which both sides of the religious controversy were to build. With a twenty-­one-­year age difference between them, Cranmer and Erasmus probably were not friends; nonetheless, Cranmer couldn’t have escaped his influence. Years later, when Erasmus’s patron, Archbishop of Canterbury William Warham, died, Cranmer continued to support him financially, to Erasmus’s enormous gratitude. The following year, 1517, Luther came out with his Ninety-­Five Theses, adding fuel to the blaze, and further opened the door for questioning the church’s authority, in Scripture and in practice. These new themes played loudly in the background when Cranmer, as a layman, was elected to Jesus College as a fellow. From the first, Cranmer began collecting texts, buying secondhand books that he later preserved in an expansive library, one of the finest in England. He wrote notes in the margins, jotting down his responses, objections, summaries, themes, and related ideas from other authors. At some point between 1515 and 1519, Cranmer’s life took its first odd twist. Living, dining, studying, and teaching at Jesus College, Cranmer was required to remain single—even though he had not been ordained nor taken a vow of celibacy. During this time, a tenant of Jesus College’s foundation owned the best local pub, the Dolphin Inn, where fellows of the college hung out and put up out-­of-­town visitors. The 9


Emblem of Faith Untouched

­ wner’s wife had a niece or a relative who worked for her, apparently an o attractive young woman who brought business into the pub. Cranmer fell in love and married this young woman. Her name was Joan. A rash decision for the otherwise cautious man, his marriage cost Cranmer a great deal in many ways. He was forced to resign as a fellow of Jesus College and take on a demeaning post, lower both in pay and in prestige, as a reader at Buckingham College. He also had to move out of Jesus College, where he had been ensconced for the past twelve years or so. Though his new wife lived in the Dolphin Inn, Cranmer moved elsewhere, probably to Buckingham College, where he could devote himself to his work with diligence. However, Cranmer often visited his wife at the inn, causing tongues to wag. In fact, this domestic situation created grief for him later on, when his Roman Catholic enemies insulted the squire’s son by calling him a “hosteler” and not a true scholar. Without much documentation, Cranmer’s love affair with Joan has sprouted many rumors in the fertile imaginations of those eager to pre­ sent him in the light of their own particular bias. Though many say Joan was simply the relative of the innkeeper’s wife, others promote her to the daughter of a gentleman. Her last name was Black or Brown; no one is sure. According to those who wish to cast aspersions, Joan and Cranmer married because she was pregnant. In keeping with his nature as a private person, Cranmer did not leave much public or personal information about his wife. We do know that their marriage lasted a short time, around a year, ending abruptly when Joan died in childbirth. For a man willing to sacrifice so much for love and honor, the death of Joan and the baby must have grieved him deeply—and yet the tragedy changed the course of Reformation history. Had she not died, Cranmer would have lived out his life as a man happily married to Joan. However, he would have been denied further study, ordination, and appointment as archbishop of Canterbury. Stranded and bereft, Cranmer reapplied to his old position as a fellow at Jesus College, where he was taken back into the fold—his reelection a tribute to his scholarly ability in the eyes of his colleagues. His reinstatement was an honor even more special because widowers were usually excluded because they had not been bound by the celibacy statutes. Once he moved back into Jesus College, he continued his studies. As theological debates began to heat up on the Continent and in En10


Cambridge gland, Cranmer studied all sides of the religious issues for the next ten years, reading a variety of writers, and he spent three years studying the Scriptures in depth. Grounded in Scripture, he read old as well as new authors, and was not swayed toward any one point of view; he withheld judgment and kept his opinions quiet. He was a slow reader but an “earnest marker.” Cranmer took careful notes and organized them under various topics of controversy. For long-­winded authors, he developed a system of notation for further reference. His theological beliefs at this time are difficult to pin down. Notes from the margins of his books reveal that he was “a papalist, but even more a conciliarist”—a traditional academic with humanist interests, but not Lutheran. Cranmer was a plodding scholar by all accounts. Some biographers claim that his deliberation and slow methods reveal a mediocre mind, but others claim that his study habits prove the opposite. The final assessment of his mind’s development lies in the quality of texts he wrote later. For example, the precise and poetic brilliance of the Book of Common Prayer reveals a careful, deliberate reader taking time to absorb and assimilate an array of different ideas along the wide spectrum of available and stimulating thought—as well as the ability to select le mot juste for clarity and beauty. Cranmer continued to study hard, and in 1526 he became a doctor of divinity. Also, he had become ordained in 1520, in the wake of Joan’s death. With his new credentials, he served as one of the learned men who examined the yearly candidates for commencement, those receiving either bachelor or doctor of divinity degrees. Each candidate had to be approved and licensed by the whole university in order to proceed, or wait until he had more knowledge and was found better prepared. Not surprisingly, as an examiner of potential candidates, Dr. Cranmer favored a firm knowledge of the Scriptures. He passed only those candidates who could prove substantial familiarity with the Bible. He rejected friars and other religious people who were brought up without studying the Scriptures. As a result, many dreaded his rigorous and severe examinations; yet, those whom he forced to study the Scriptures later thanked him. An example was Dr. Barett, a White Friar who moved to Norwich and later applauded Dr. Cranmer for rejecting him so he could amend his ways. Cranmer grew in knowledge and reputation. When Cardinal 11


Emblem of Faith Untouched

Thomas Wolsey took power under Henry VIII, he tried to tempt Cambridge scholars to join his newly founded and lavishly funded Cardinal College in Oxford, picking out the best in their fields. Dr. Capon nominated Cranmer in this talent search in the 1520s. Cranmer declined to board the “gravy train,” at the risk of offending people in high places. Some might have said that his refusal ruined his chances for advancement, but this proved not to be the case. He continued at Cambridge, soaking up different sides of the increasingly inflammatory issues. Cranmer’s personality played as distinct and important a role in English history as did his scholarship, position, and intelligence. He was compassionate, unassuming, and personable. Even one of Cranmer’s bitterest biographers praises his personality: “He had in his favour a dignified presence, adorned with a semblance of goodness, a considerable reputation for learning, and manners so courteous, kindly, and pleasant, that he seemed like an old friend to those whom he encountered for the first time.” By the end of the 1520s, Cranmer appeared content and comfortable with his life in academia, desiring to spend the rest of his days in Cambridge. He was at peace, not troubled by ambition, wealth, power, or status. He would turn forty in 1529. But in the church, changes were on the horizon. Perhaps the most important change for Cranmer’s future came with the news that Henry VIII wanted an annulment from Catherine, the Spanish Queen of England.

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Profile for Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Emblem of Faith Untouched: A Short Life of Thomas Cranmer  

Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) was the first Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the author of the Book of Common Prayer, and a central figure in...

Emblem of Faith Untouched: A Short Life of Thomas Cranmer  

Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) was the first Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the author of the Book of Common Prayer, and a central figure in...

Profile for eerdmans