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465th Anniversary of burning of Archbishop of Canterbury for treason and heresy

Anglicans commemorate the martyr-ing of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer on 21 March, because in 1556 he was burned at the stake in Oxford.

A lot of the insurrectionists in England, also known as the leaders of the Reformation, were subject to rough treatment in those years, with tacit (and sometimes explicit) approval from Rome. Archbishop Cranmer had been on the good side of several monarchs -- during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. He helped build the case for the annulment of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which was one of the causes of the separation of the English Church from union with the Holy See. Along with Thomas Cromwell, he supported the principle of royal supremacy, in which the king was considered sovereign over the Church within his realm.

He wrote and compiled the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer, a complete liturgy for the English Church. With the assistance of several Continental reformers to whom he gave refuge, he changed doctrine or discipline in areas such as the Eucharist, clerical celibacy, the role of images in places of worship, and the veneration of saints.

Mary I was Catholic, though, and when she took over the throne both loyalists to Rome and Church-of-England fans chose party over nation and stuck with their partisan identity politics, leading to a lot of unsavory episodes, including Cranmer deciding to recant his recantations and die a heretic by Roman standards so he could be a hero/martyr by Anglican standards.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cranmer

Posted by
5093 posts

Was it just a coincidence that his immolation happened on the Spring Equinox? For a couple of seconds, the flames would’ve taken off winter’s chill. Whether that was any less horrible than the cold steel of a beheading blade is doubtful, and his killing was just as final.

Posted by
4412 posts

I thought this was a travel forum rather than a history one.

Posted by
5093 posts

Travel and history, especially European, has been closely intertwined for a lot of us.

Posted by
1248 posts

For those visiting, there are some "sights" related to TC. His pulpit is in Westminster Abbey. In Oxford the place where he and two other Martyrs were murdered is marked on Broad Street and there is a grander memorial round the corner.

I don't think there is any significance to the particular date chosen for Cranmer's burning. Bloody Mary liked burning people and this was probably as good a day as any other so far as she was concerned. Thankfully Mary I's reign wasn't too long. But whilst it lasted it was one disaster after another. As well as reintroducing the authority of the pope, she collaborated with Spain (even marrying a Spaniard), plus there was a famine, an epidemic and, perhaps worse of all, she lost Calais to the French. Fortunately, Bloody Mary's successor was Elizabeth I who was made of sterner stuff having the "heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too".

Posted by
4412 posts

Travel and history, especially European, has been closely intertwined for a lot of us.

I'm sure it is, which is why it would be beneficial to include, as Nick has, some useful travel information to accompany a bit of historical blurb.

Posted by
21260 posts

Nothing wrong with someone providing the history and someone else providing the travel content. Given how much English history there is, I have always wondered how they taught history in grade school.

Posted by
1665 posts

What I don't know about European history could fill a library (and does) so when fellow forum members use these anniversary notes that I post as an opportunity to share their own connections or enliven a visit, as I am hoping, it's much appreciated -
thanks Nick, et aliis.

So many places get pigeon-holed by guidebooks, even our beloved RS books, for a handful of notable things only when they all have oodles of history to offer travelers - I think it's great to see that Oxford has an important role in Reformation events and relations between Church and Crown, not just the handful of must-sees mentioned in the travel guides.

I've said as much about the towns of southeastern Spain that are considered fun-in-the-sun getaways from chillier environments, with maybe a Roman ruin or two to add color -- these places are chock full to overflowing with history from every period, and it would be a shame to miss out on it while in their midst.

Posted by
1153 posts

Thanks for this post. Travel and history come together for me and is a main reason why I travel. When I know information like this it makes the sites I am seeing come and alive. I will bookmark this for the next time I go to Oxford.