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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

Cranmer was conducted back to his prison


Ferrar, the Reformed Bishop of St. David's, was sent to Carmarthen to be burnt in the chief town of his diocese (March 30th, 1555). Perhaps it was his death that gave rise to the verses in Welsh, exhorting the men of the Principality to rise in defence of their religion against the English who were bent on its destruction, and calling them to extirpate image worship and the use of the crucifix.[509]

Bishops Ridley and Latimer and Archbishop Cranmer had been kept in confinement at Oxford since April 1554; and they were now to be proceeded against. The two Bishops were brought before the Court acting on a commission from Cardinal Pole, the Legate. They were condemned on Oct. 1st, 1555, and on the 16th they were burnt at Oxford in the present Broad Street before Balliol College. Cranmer witnessed their death from the top of the tower in which he was confined.

In the Archbishop's case it was deemed necessary, in order to fulfil the requirements of Canon Law, that he should be tried by the Pope himself. He was accordingly informed that his sovereigns had "denounced" him to the Pope, and that His Holiness had commissioned the Cardinal Du Puy, Prefect of the Inquisition, to act on his behalf, and that Du Puy had delegated the duty to James Brooks, who had succeeded Hooper as Bishop of Gloucester, to the Dean of St. Paul's, and to the Archdeacon of Canterbury. The trial took place in St. Mary's Church. The accusers,

Philip and Mary, were represented by Drs. Martyn and Story. They, in the name of their sovereigns, presented a lengthy indictment, in which the chief charges were adultery, perjury, and heresy. The first meant that although a priest he had been married, and had even married a second time after he had been made an Archbishop; the second, that he had sworn obedience to the Pope and broken his oath; and the third, that he had denied the doctrine of transubstantiation.[510]

Cranmer refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of his judges, but answered the charges brought against him to his accusers because they represented his sovereigns. He denied that the Pope had any ecclesiastical power within England; but submitted to the kingly supremacy. As Brooks had no authority from the Pope to do more than hear the case, no judgment was pronounced; it was only intimated that the proceedings would be reported to Rome. Cranmer was conducted back to his prison. There he addressed first one, then a second letter to the Queen.[511] In dignified and perfectly respectful language he expressed the degradation of the kingdom exhibited in the act of the sovereigns appealing to an "outward judge, or to an authority coming from any person out of this realm" to judge between them and one of their own subjects. Cranmer early in his career had come to the unalterable opinion that the papal supremacy was responsible for the abuses and disorders in the mediaeval Church, and that reformation was impossible so long as it was maintained. In common with every thoughtful man of his generation, he repudiated the whole structure of papal claims built up by the Roman Curia during the fifteenth century, and held that it was in every way incompatible with the loyalty which every subject owed to his sovereign and to the laws of his country. He took his stand on this conviction.

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