Thomas Cranmer

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Cranmer, Thomas

(krăn`mər), 1489–1556, English churchman under Henry VIIIHenry VIII,
1491–1547, king of England (1509–47), second son and successor of Henry VII. Early Life

In his youth he was educated in the new learning of the Renaissance and developed great skill in music and sports.
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; archbishop of Canterbury. A lecturer at Jesus College, Cambridge, he is said to have come to the attention of the king in 1529 by suggesting that Henry might further his efforts to achieve a divorce from Katharine of AragónKatharine of Aragón,
1485–1536, first queen consort of Henry VIII of England; daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragón and Isabella of Castile. In 1501 she was married to Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII.
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 by collecting opinions in his favor from the universities. Cranmer went (1530) to Rome to argue the king's case and was (1532) an ambassador to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. In 1533, Henry named him archbishop of Canterbury, and as soon as the appointment was confirmed by the pope, Cranmer proclaimed that Henry's marriage to Katharine was invalid. A few days later he crowned Anne BoleynBoleyn, Anne
, 1507?–1536, second queen consort of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I. She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, later earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde, and on her mother's side she was related to the Howard family.
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 as Henry's queen. Completely subservient to the king's will, Cranmer declared Anne's marriage invalid in 1536. He promoted Henry's marriage (1540) to Anne of ClevesAnne of Cleves
, 1515–57, fourth queen consort of Henry VIII of England. The sister of William, duke of Cleves, one of the most powerful of the German Protestant princes, she was considered a desirable match for Henry by those English councilors, most notably Thomas
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 and the divorce from her, and was later (1542) one of the accusers of Catherine HowardHoward, Catherine,
1521?–1542, fifth queen consort of Henry VIII of England. She was the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and the niece of the powerful Thomas Howard, 3d duke of Norfolk. Henry married her soon after his divorce from Anne of Cleves in 1540.
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. Cranmer was strongly influenced by the German Reformation. With his friend Thomas CromwellCromwell, Thomas, earl of Essex,
1485?–1540, English statesman. While a young man he lived abroad as a soldier, accountant, and merchant, and on his return (c.1512) to England he engaged in the wool trade and eventually became a lawyer.
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, he endorsed the translation of the Bible into English and was influential in procuring a royal proclamation (1538) providing for a copy in every parish church. However, as long as Henry VIII lived, the archbishop could promote no significant doctrinal changes. The situation changed with the accession (1547) of the young Edward VIEdward VI,
1537–53, king of England (1547–53), son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. Edward succeeded his father to the throne at the age of nine. Henry had made arrangements for a council of regents, but the council immediately appointed Edward's uncle, Edward
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, during whose reign Cranmer shaped the doctrinal and liturgical transformation of the Church of England. He was responsible for much of the first Book of Common PrayerBook of Common Prayer,
title given to the service book used in the Church of England and in other churches of the Anglican Communion. The first complete English Book of Common Prayer was produced, mainly by Thomas Cranmer, in 1549 under Edward VI.
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 (1549) and compiled the revision of 1552, which contains the most famous examples of his sonorous prose, with the aid of prominent Continental reformers. His Forty-two Articles (1553), though never formally adopted, formed the basis of the Thirty-nine Articles (see creedcreed
[Lat. credo=I believe], summary of basic doctrines of faith. The following are historically important Christian creeds.

1 The Nicene Creed, beginning, "I believe in one God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and
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 (5)). Cranmer supported the claims of Lady Jane GreyGrey, Lady Jane,
1537–54, queen of England for nine days. She was the daughter of Henry Grey, marquess of Dorset (later duke of Suffolk), and Frances Brandon, daughter of Henry VIII's sister Mary.
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 after Edward's death. Upon the accession (1553) of the Roman Catholic Queen Mary IMary I
(Mary Tudor), 1516–58, queen of England (1553–58), daughter of Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragón. Early Life

While Mary was a child, various husbands were proposed for her—the eldest son of Francis I of France (1518), Holy Roman
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, he was tried for treason, convicted of heresy, stripped of his preferments, and condemned. A few days before his death he recanted, but when asked to repeat the recantation at the stake, he refused and thrust the hand that had written it into the fire.


See biographies and studies by F. C. Hutchinson (1951, repr. 1966), T. Maynard (1956), J. G. Ridley (1962, repr. 1983), and D. MacCulloch (1996).

Cranmer, Thomas


Born July 2, 1489, in Aslacton, Nottinghamshire; died Mar. 21, 1556, in Oxford. English Reformation leader.

Cranmer received the degree of doctor of divinity at Cambridge University. In 1533 he became the archbishop of Canterbury. He assisted in establishing the supremacy of the king in church affairs (Henry VIII was proclaimed head of the English, or Anglican, Church in 1534 by Parliament) and in carrying out the Reformation and the secularization of church property. Under Henry VIII and Edward VI he carried out a number of church reforms in the Protestant spirit, but his work did not result in a thorough reorganization of the English Church. When Catholicism was restored under Mary Tudor, Cranmer was accused of high treason. He was imprisoned and then burned at the stake as a heretic.


Pollard, A. F. Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation, 2nd ed.
London, 1926.

Cranmer, Thomas

a meek, patient, honest churchman. [Br. Lit.: Henry VIII]
See: Honesty
References in periodicals archive ?
Still more specifically, my concerns will focus on explanations of eucharistic belief during the archbishopric of Thomas Cranmer.
In 1556, Thomas Cranmer, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, was burned at the stake for heresy.
Seven decades before the King James Bible standardized the Scriptures in English, Thomas Cranmer began work on an English-language liturgy to replace Latin as the standard tongue for Christian worship in England.
I limit my discussion to the theologies of Thomas Cranmer and John Wesley, who essentially established the respective Anglican and Methodist traditions.
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But he warned the congregation that the more the Church heeded "Jesus' call" the more the Church would suffer - highlighting the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the Anglican archbishop burnt at the stake in 1556.
On that day in our calendar of holy men and women, we commemorate the life and labours of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the chief architect of the principle of common prayer in the language of the people.
Finally, to show what influence Martin Bucer might have had on Thomas Cranmer and the eucharistic prayer in the Book of Common Prayer, Jones analyzes a 16th-century letter from Bucer to Richard Bonner, who was very close to Cranmer.
Narrowing focus again, he concludes by exploring its expression in the theology of John Wyclif and the Lollards, William Tyndale, and Thomas Cranmer.
English worship as envisioned by Thomas Cranmer, the principal author of the prayer book liturgy, fundamentally prioritized the representation of divine things as representation, particularly in the crucial Eucharistic service.
He become very interested in the 16th century and Thomas Cranmer, who was leader of the Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI.
The Scot saw plenty of the 15th century-style underwear playing Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer in the raunchy period drama.