Thomas Cranmer was born in 1489 in Aslockton, Nottinghamshire. He studied at Cambridge University, where he became a leader of the Protestant Reformation. In 1533, he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by King Henry VIII and played a leading role in making England into a Protestant country.
Cranmer was arrested and executed during the reign of Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary). His martyrdom helped to solidify Protestantism as the dominant religion in England.
Thomas Cranmer was born in 1489 in Aslockton, Nottinghamshire. He was the second son of Thomas and Agnes Cranmer. His father was a yeoman farmer who owned his land.
Cranmer studied at Cambridge University, where he was a member of Jesus College and received his bachelor’s degree in 1511. He then went on to become a fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge, and later became the college’s master. In this position, Cranmer worked as an instructor for students studying theology, Hebrew and Greek.
After receiving his doctorate in theology from the University of Padua in 1517, Cranmer was appointed as the chaplain to Henry VIII. A few years later, he became a member of the king’s Privy Council and began working on translating the Bible into English.
The Protestant Reformation
In 1529, when Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Cranmer wrote a statement in support of the king. This act sealed his position as an adviser to Henry and would lead him down the path towards Protestantism.
In 1532, Cranmer married Margaret Osiander after her father was executed by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V for heresy. By marrying Osiander, Cranmer was turning his back on the Catholic Church and converting to Lutheranism which would have been a huge scandal at that time.
In 1533, Henry VIII appointed Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury after the previous archbishop refused to annul his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. His position as Archbishop made Cranmer the most important person in the English church.
During his time as Archbishop, Cranmer helped to establish the Protestant Church of England and wrote many of its official documents. He also played a role in Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and subsequent marriages to Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour.
After Henry VIII died in 1547 and was succeeded by his son, Edward VI, Cranmer continued in his position as Archbishop of Canterbury. He made many changes to the church including altering its liturgy, removing images from churches, and destroying altars. In 1549 he published a book that contained the first English Prayer Book called The Book of Common Prayer.
Cranmer’s career ended when Edward VI died and was succeeded by his half-sister, Mary I. The new queen wanted England to return to Catholicism so she had Cranmer arrested for heresy and treason. In 1553, he was tried at Oxford University where he confessed that he was guilty of Protestantism and petitioned for mercy.
Cranmer was then burned at the stake in 1556 under the orders of Queen Mary I.
Thomas Cranmer is known as one of the architects of Anglicanism due to his role in establishing it during Henry VIII’s reign. During his time as Archbishop, he helped to create the Church of England which is still in use today. He also wrote many of its official documents including the Book of Common Prayer.
Cranmer’s legacy continues even after his death. In addition to being an important figure in Anglicanism, he has also been recognized as a martyr by the Catholic Church and was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886. He was also considered as a potential candidate for sainthood by the Church of England but this never happened due to his execution on charges of heresy and treason.
Cranmer’s writings have been influential throughout history because he was one of the first people to translate books from Latin into English. His most famous work is the Book of Common Prayer which has been used in Anglican churches all over the world.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Thomas Cranmer: The First Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury" https://englishhistory.net/tudor/citizens/thomas-cranmer/, February 2, 2022