This is the day that … Thomas Cranmer was born in 1489.
He was Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of England’s stormy break with the Church of Rome.
King Henry VIII wanted his marriage to Catherine of Aragon dissolved on the grounds that she was the widow of Henry’s brother when the marriage had taken place. The reason, however, was that she had borne him no son – nor did she look like doing so – and Anne Boleyn had caught his eye.
The Pope said, “No!” As far as he was concerned the marriage was legal and binding. And he was right.
But Cranmer – already influenced by the Protestant Reformers – pronounced Catherine’s marriage “null and void” and conducted the ceremony between the king and Anne. Their child was born four months later, a girl.
Cranmer lived through the rest of Henry’s marriages – into the reign of Edward VI (1547-1553), during which time he was mainly responsible for the Book of Common Prayer (1549, revised 1552).
Now his Protestantism had come to the fore; so much so that during the reign of Romanist Mary Tudor (1553-1558) he was burned at the stake rather than renounce his faith.
“As for the Pope,” he cried to the crowd in those moments before his martyrdom, “I refuse him with all his false doctrine as Christ’s enemy and as Anti-Christ!” (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs).
And so Thomas Cranmer died – 21 March, 1556.
An eyewitness account of his death is available at: http://englishhistory.net/tudor/pcranmer.html
This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.