Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 13.djvu/27

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that the king was lawfully married to Anne Boleyn.

On 10 Sept. in the same year he stood godfather to the Princess Elizabeth at her baptism. A month before he had examined the fanatical ‘Nun of Kent,’ Elizabeth Barton [q. v.] , on the subject of her pretended revelations. Her prophecies had failed to deter the king from marrying Anne Boleyn; but what was to become of the couple had been partly revealed to her in a trance, and she expected to be answered fully in another on the archbishop allowing her to go down into Kent for the purpose. Cranmer gave her leave to do so in order that she might commit herself more fully, and then handed her over to Cromwell to be examined further touching her adherents. He also examined some of the monks of Christ Church as to their complicity in her revelations.

Favoured by the king, who continued to lend money to him (Calendar, Henry VIII, vol. vi. No. 1474), he could not but be the subservient instrument of Henry's policy. In Easter week of the following year he issued an inhibition to the clergy forbidding any of them to preach without taking out new licenses. This was apparently the result of an express admonition from the king, and designed to prevent the marriage with Anne Boleyn being denounced from the pulpit. Soon after an order was taken ‘for preaching and bidding of beads,’ by which the licensed pulpit orators were directed to inveigh against the authority of the pope, but not to preach either for or against purgatory, worship of saints, marriage of priests, and some other subjects for the space of a year (ib. vol. vii. Nos. 463, 464, 750–1, 871). A considerable change of doctrine was thus already contemplated, but was referred to a future decision of the archbishop, who, being now the highest ecclesiastical authority recognised in the land, was invested with some of the functions hitherto exercised by the pope. He granted bulls and dispensations, consecrated bishops by his own act, and, greatly to the annoyance of his suffragans, two or three of whom in vain protested, held a general visitation of his province in 1534. ‘Of all sorts of men,’ he himself writes at this time to the lord chancellor, ‘I am daily informed that priests report the worst of me’ (ib. No. 702; Works, ii. 291). He was enthroned at Canterbury 3 Dec. 1534 (Chronicle of St. Augustine's, in ‘Narratives of the Reformation,’ p. 280, says 1533, but it was certainly next year; see Calendar, vol. vii. No. 1520). On 10 Feb. in the following year he took the lead in the formal abjuration made by each of the bishops singly of allegiance to the see of Rome. But though he so readily lent himself to the establishment of the royal supremacy, he certainly did his best to prevent the martyrdom of those who could not conscientiously accept it. When More and Fisher, after their examination at Lambeth, expressed their willingness to swear to the new act of succession, but not to the preamble, he urged strongly that it would be politic to accept their obedience to this extent without pressing them further; and in April 1535, after the Charter House monks were condemned, he suggested to Cromwell that efforts should be made to procure recantations, at least from Webster, prior of Axholme, and Reynold of Sion, rather than that they should be made to suffer the extreme penalty of the law. But in neither application was he successful, and on 3 June 1535 he was one of the lords who went to the Tower to examine Sir Thomas More, though the chief examiner seems to have been Lord-chancellor Audeley. Next day he received royal letters, which were sent to the other bishops also, and followed up by a royal proclamation on the 9th, directing them on every Sunday and high feast throughout the year to preach that the king was supreme head of the church of England. Another duty enjoined upon them was to have the pope's name erased from every service book. How Cranmer fulfilled these injunctions his own letters testify on more than one occasion; and in August following he refers to Dr. Layton, the king's visitor, who heard him preach in his own cathedral, as a witness of his obedience.

Next year, on 2 May, Anne Boleyn was suddenly sent to the Tower, her trial and execution following within less than three weeks. Her old chaplain, the archbishop, received orders on the day of her arrest to come up from the country to Lambeth, where he was to remain till further intimation was made of the king's pleasure. He wrote Henry a letter expressive of some perplexity, but after concluding it he was sent for to the Star-chamber, where the case against Anne was officially declared to him, and he added in a postscript: ‘I am exceedingly sorry that such faults can be proved by [i.e. against] the queen.’ After her condemnation he visited her in the Tower. The king was determined not only to put Anne to death, but to prove that he had never been married to her. Cranmer procured from her in conversation an avowal of certain circumstances which, though never openly stated in justification of the king's conduct, were considered to affect the validity of her marriage; and just as in 1533 he had pronounced that marriage valid he now on 17 May 1536 pronounced it to