Spotlight – Thomas Cranmer

Name: Thomas Cranmer

Title/s: Archbishop of Canterbury

Birth / Death: 2 July 1489 – 21 March 1556 (executed by burning)

Spouse: Margarete Hetzel 1511-1576

Children: Margaret Cranmer 1536-1568 / Thomas Cranmer 1538-1598

Parents: Thomas Cranmer and Agnes Hatfield

Siblings: None

Noble Connections: Cranmer was patronised by Anne Boleyn, Queen to Henry VIII. He was close to both Henry VIII and Edward VI, and was instrumental in allowing Jane Grey to take the throne in 1553.

Events of their Lifetime: Death of Henry VII and accession of Henry VIII 1509, birth of Mary I 1516, marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and birth of Elizabeth I 1533, execution of Anne Boleyn 1536, birth of Edward VI 1537, death of Henry VIII and accession of Edward VI 1547, death of Edward VI and accession of Mary I 1553.

Controversy: Cranmer married while in the reforming city of Nuremberg, but it is unknown exactly when – he ignored his vows of clerical celibacy. He recanted his Protestantism under Mary I, but then recanted his recantation.

Works of Fiction:

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (2009)

Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies (2012)

Jean Plaidy, The King’s Secret Matter (1962)

C.J. Sansom, Revelation (2015)

Portrayals on Screen:

Milton Cadman, A Man for All Seasons, 1988, directed by Charlton Heston

Will Keen, Wolf Hall, 2015, 5 episodes

Hans Matheson, The Tudors, 2008, 10 episodes

David Waller, Lady Jane, 1986, directed by Trevor Nunn

Bill Wallis, The Other Boleyn Girl, 2008, directed by Justin Chadwick

Further Reading:

G.W. Bernard, The King’s Reformation (2005)

David Loades, Intrigue and Treason: the Tudor Court 1547-1558 (2004)

Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: a Life (1996)

Jasper Ridley, Thomas Cranmer (1962)

Leslie Williams, Emblem of Faith Untouched: a Short Life of Thomas Cranmer (2017)


Arms of Thomas Cranmer


Thomas Cranmer by Gerlach Flicke 1545.
Thomas Cranmer by Gerlach Flicke 1545.
Thomas Cranmer by Unknown c.1547
Thomas Cranmer by Unknown c.1547

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