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Thomas Cranmer

pope english canterbury king

Cranmer, Thomas (1489–1556), first Protestant archbishop of Canterbury and English martyr. He was an outstanding scholar and one of the leaders of the English Reformation. He obtained the favor of Henry VIII by proposing to refer the question of the annulment of the king's marriage to Catherine of Aragon to the European universities rather than to the pope. He became the king's chaplain and in 1530 was sent on a mission to the pope to discuss the divorce. In 1533 he was appointed archbishop of Canterbury. In conformity with his belief in the ascendancy of the state over the church, he annulled Henry's marriages to Catherine (1533) and Anne Boleyn (1536). As counselor to Edward VI Cranmer became increasingly Protestant, and compiled the Book of Common Prayer (1549), his most enduring achievement, but suffered impeachment and imprisonment under the Catholic queen, Mary Tudor. After several recantations he stood by his beliefs and met death at the stake at Oxford with great courage.

See also: Book of Common Prayer.

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