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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Cranmer, Thomas

a meek, patient, honest churchman. [Br. Lit.: Henry VIII]
See: Honesty
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
1539, under the direction of Archbishop Cranmer, Coverdale issued a revised edition, officially authorized for use in churches; its version of the Psalms still stands as the Psalter of the English Church.
The Book of Common Prayer, now used in the English Church coordinately with Bible and Psalter, took shape out of previous primers of private devotion, litanies, and hymns, mainly as the work of Archbishop Cranmer during the reign of Edward VI.
Two of the participants in the bear escape story, Thomas Cromwell and Archbishop Cranmer, were later martyred.
Now I will add to that a reminder to myself--that he recites from memory the General Confession, by Archbishop Cranmer, martyr.
Extensive textual analysis uncovers the extent to which Archbishop Cranmer left the theology and language of the prayer book delicately poised, perhaps accounting for the deep dissatisfaction it provoked.
Archbishop Cranmer (@His_Grace) Who in their right mind would not chose to leave 10% of their wealth to charity rather than give it to the government in IHT?
A stone cross at Broad Street in Oxford, England marks the spot where Archbishop Cranmer, whose book defined Anglican worship, was burned at the stake in 1556.
The papers will also include key documents in relation to the succession of Henry VIII and the Dispensation by Archbishop Cranmer, which allowed Henry VIII to marry Jane Seymour, who became his third wife.
Tip for the top: Tess co-star Gemma; Boys' club: Hans, left, with Tudors stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers and James Frain; Cross dresser: Hans in costume as Tudors archbishop Cranmer; Cold comfort: Snuggling up to Keira in Dr Zhivago
In his discussion of issues that shaped the American BCP of 1928 ("The Colonies and States of America" 184), Marion Hatchett notes that the previous Book of 1789 included the Scottish Prayer of Consecration (considered a more theologically Catholic structure than the English 1662) and yet maintained the 1552 anomaly of Archbishop Cranmer's insertion of the Prayer of Humble Access after the Sanctus and before the body of the Prayer beginning "All glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father...." Lines 22/23 of Hatchett's essay should read: "this prayer had, since 1552, a position following the Sanctus and before the Prayer of Consecration, the communion, and the Lord's Prayer." In the American BCP of 1928, the classic sequence (as in the Roman Rite) was restored.
1536 Archbishop Cranmer declared Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn invalid.
A defining question of the Reformation was what "is" meant in the words of institution in communion, "this is my body." Catholics (and Lutherans) took "is" literally, but many Protestants took it metaphorically--to mean "represents." Pressed on these words, Archbishop Cranmer asserted desperately that his Catholic interrogators did not understand tropes.