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 periodicals archive ?
The BCP was first compiled and edited by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1549 and revised in 1552.
"When we do better we make space for our own courage to be liberated, for God to act among us and for human beings to flourish." 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.
The first Book of Homilies, likely edited by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, appeared in 1547 within six months of the death of Henry VIII.
Shortly after his arrival in England upon the invitation of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, Peter Martyr Vermigli engaged in a public theological debate at Oxford, his first as a Protestant theologian, on the subject of the Eucharist.
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer died at the stake in 1556, a martyr for the English Reformation; but did he die a martyr for the Church of England or for Anglicanism?
A published study of Harleian MS 426, comprising the text which John Foxe (with no apparent MS authority) called Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum, is badly needed.(1) Archbishop Thomas Cranmer championed three reform projects in the mid-sixteenth century - a reformed liturgy, Articles of belief, and a revised code of canon law.
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.
Also, Robinson argues that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, author of the Book of Common Prayer, anticipates Wittgenstein's understanding of language.
Robinson defends Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer with the same passionate intelligence with which he defends the King James Bible.
I wonder what Archbishop Thomas Cranmer would say about all of this.
You will not explore Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's compromises that kept Puritans and ritualists together at the same table; you won't read of such curiosities as Elizabeth I introducing her astrologer's zodiac signs into the daily lectionary, or the timidity that led the framers of the 1959 BCP to omit such controversial verses as Psalm 137:7-9--nor why the editors of the Book of Alternative Services restored them.