Thomas Cranmer: A Life

Thomas Cranmer: A Life

by Diarmaid MacCulloch


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Thomas Cranmer, the architect of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, was the archbishop of Canterbury who guided England through the early Reformation—and Henry VIII through the minefields of divorce. This is the first major biography of him for more than three decades, and the first for a century to exploit rich new manuscript sources in Britain and elsewhere.
Diarmaid MacCulloch, one of the foremost scholars of the English Reformation, traces Cranmer from his east-Midland roots through his twenty-year career as a conventionally conservative Cambridge don. He shows how Cranmer was recruited to the coterie around Henry VIII that was trying to annul the royal marriage to Catherine, and how new connections led him to embrace the evangelical faith of the European Reformation and, ultimately, to become archbishop of Canterbury. By then a major English statesman, living the life of a medieval prince-bishop, Cranmer guided the church through the king's vacillations and finalized two successive versions of the English prayer book.
MacCulloch skillfully reconstructs the crises Cranmer negotiated, from his compromising association with three of Henry's divorces, the plot by religious conservatives to oust him, and his role in the attempt to establish Lady Jane Grey as queen to the vengeance of the Catholic Mary Tudor. In jail after Mary's accession, Cranmer nearly repudiated his achievements, but he found the courage to turn the day of his death into a dramatic demonstration of his Protestant faith.
From this vivid account Cranmer emerges a more sharply focused figure than before, more conservative early in his career than admirers have allowed, more evangelical than Anglicanism would later find comfortable. A hesitant hero with a tangled life story, his imperishable legacy is his contribution in the prayer book to the shape and structure of English speech and through this to the molding of an international language and the theology it expressed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300226577
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 02/28/2017
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 704
Sales rank: 678,177
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.20(d)

About the Author

Diarmaid MacCulloch is a fellow of St. Cross College and professor of the history of the church, University of Oxford. His many books include A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations viii

List of abbreviations x

Acknowledgements xi

Introduction to the revised edition 1

Introduction 5

Part I Academic Prelude

1 Simple esquire: 1489-1503 11

2 Cambridge years: 1503-29 20

Part II The King's Good Servant

3 Campaign to end a marriage: 1527-33 41

4 The reign of Queen Anne: 1533-6 79

5 From Anne Boleyn to Thomas Cromwell: 1535-7 136

6 A 'Reformed' Church? 1535-9 173

7 Salvaging the cause: 1539-42 237

8 A problem of survival: 1542-6 297

Part III The Years of Opportunity

9 Welcoming King Josiah: 1546-9 351

10 1549: Commotion in Church and commonwealth 410

11 Building a Protestant Church: 1550-52 454

Part IV Finding Immortality

12 Paradise betrayed: 1552-3 517

13 Condemned: 1553-6 554

14 Aftermath and retrospect 606

Appendix I Was Stephen Nevinson Cranmer's anonymous biographer? 633

Appendix II The date of Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn 637

Appendix III University connections among close relatives, servants and households of Thomas Cranmer and Stephen Gardiner 639

Bibliography 644

Index 671

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Thomas Cranmer 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Diarmaid MacCulloch has done a masterful job in fleshing out Tudor figure Thomas Cranmer. I have learned many interesting details which have added to my understanding of the court of Henry VIII. I have also come to admire Thomas Cranmer. My one complaint is that the details occasionally become tedious, though I feel the book is well worth a Tudor-o-file's time.
BrianHostad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very comprehensive book as one would expect from Dr MacCulloch. However, it reads more of a history of the early English reformation than a biography of Cranmer. Of course Cranmer was pivotal to this process, but the book focussess too much on the theological details and progression of his belief, to the exclusion of other equally important aspects of his life. Cranmer's involvement in the politics and events of the period (when not related directly to matters of religion) are too brief and never properly developed. As a result I didn't feel I got a well rounded profile of the man.
ElTomaso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent view of how the English church was ripped out of the sphere of influence of Rome.